The Bay Gets a New ride

A low-emission ferry that will shuttle passengers between Oakland  and the West Bay was christened at the Oakland Ferry Terminal in Jack London  Square today.
The Taurus will immediately provide service between Oakland and  San Francisco and in the fall of 2011 it will also provide service between  Oakland and a new terminal in South San Francisco, according to Leamon Abrams  of the Water Emergency Transportation Authority.

The christening of the Taurus is part of a two-pronged effort  aimed at expanding ferry service in the Bay Area as well as developing an  emergency water transportation system.

California Emergency Management Authority Secretary Matthew  Bettenhausen, whose agency is responsible for leading the state's emergency  response to natural and man-made disasters, said the ferry system will help  the Bay Area respond to and recover from disasters.

U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who participated in the event,  said in a statement, "Expanding our regional ferry system is a key component  in the Bay Area's strategy to cut freeway congestion and provide sustainable  transportation options."

The Water Emergency Transportation Authority, which is based in  San Francisco, was created by the California Legislature in 1999 and  initially was known as the Water Transportation Authority.

Its name was changed in 2007 after it was given the responsibility  for providing disaster response and recovery.

The Taurus is the agency's fourth new passenger vessel. The  vessels represent the initial investments in a regional ferry system with  plans to add up to seven new routes that are expected to triple ridership.

The Taurus is a 199-passenger, double-hulled catamaran vessel that  the water authority says runs 85 percent cleaner than current Environmental  Protection Agency standards for marine engines in its class.

Abrams said more than 400 people took free rides on the ferry  today.

The standard roundtrip fare for adults traveling from Oakland or  Alameda to San Francisco will be $12.50. Prices are lower for those who buy a  40-ticket pack.

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